The W Exclusives: Kelly Mazzante
The fan-favorite talks about the Mercury and WNBA.
Kelly Mazzante is, without a doubt, one of the most underrated players in the entire WNBA. She’s also one of the nicest, funniest, and supportive. As any Mercury fan or follower will tell you, no matter the situation, you’ll always see “Mazz” smiling, having fun, and supporting her teammates at all times.
There were several occasions at Mercury practices where I, literally, wouldn’t see Mazz miss a shot the entire time – and I’m not exaggerating. She has one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen in a shooter (man or woman) and they go in the hoop quite frequently; you don’t become the all-time leading scorer in Big 10 history (male or female) history if you’re not a phenomenal basketball player.
If you’re not aware, Mazz has quite an impressive resume; she was a three-time All-American at Penn State, she owns the Big 10 record for field goals made, field goals attempted, 3 PT field goals made, 3 PT field goals attempted, and has been amongst the league leaders in three-point shooting in her WNBA career numerous times.
More important than her shooting ability, Mazz brings a confidence and consistency to the Phoenix Mercury that has proven invaluable throughout the years.
I recently was able to catch up with Mazz to get her thoughts on…well…a lot of things – including a surprise for her “funniest teammate” award…
SLAM: First off, describe the feeling you had when you and the Mercury were able to hoist that WNBA Championship trophy for the 2nd time in 3 years.
Kelly Mazzante: Winning a championship is definitely a feeling that doesn’t get old, and this year was just as special as two years ago. I think we just had an extremely focused and determined team to win it this year, and that was evident throughout the entire season, all the way down to hoisting that trophy in October. Being a part of a championship team is the reason you compete, so I am very grateful to be a part of it.
SLAM: Bigger accomplishment – being the all-time leading scorer in Big 10 History (men and women) or winning multiple WNBA Championships?
KM: Like I said before, no individual accomplishment could even come close to comparing to winning a team championship. I really enjoyed my four years in college, but nothing will compare to being on the Mercury’s championship teams.
SLAM: What was it like being a part of what is being called as the best WNBA Finals in history?
KM: It is amazing to be a part of that, and I agree too, with how special the Finals were this season. The fact that it went to 5 games, the arenas were sold out, the NBA on both sides got involved, and more importantly, the series had the WNBA MVP in every game, defensive players of the year, All-WNBA first team players, how could it not be one of the best?
SLAM: You’re role on the team has varied throughout your time in Phoenix, describe the importance of being consistently ready to play and contribute at a moment’s notice.
KM: I think being a professional athlete, that sort of situation happens and presents itself, and how you deal with it is really important. Whether I was the sixth man, or not seeing the floor, I knew I was an important part of the team, and did my best to stay ready, focused, and in-tuned with the team and what was happening. I am surrounded by an amazing coaching staff, and teammates, so it was easy to stay ready, and most importantly, just win games. Not to mention, the talent we had on this year’s team was phenomenal, as we all saw!
SLAM: Have you noticed an increase in popularity with the women’s game and the WNBA? What do you attribute that to?
KM: There definitely has been an increase in the women’s game, and I think a huge part without a doubt is the talent the WNBA provides each and every night. Obviously, the time of year when our season plays and competing with the other major sports is tough, but as you saw the attendance of this season, you can see it continuing to grow. I think our finals series was so important for the growth of our game, just with the excitement and talent of every game, and there were even times, us players watched, almost thinking we were fans, because the play was that fun to watch.
SLAM: You’re known as being very passionate about giving back to others, especially children. What makes that so important to you?
KM: I think giving back is so important, because reaching out to the generations below you is what it is all about. I can vividly remember those types of moments I had when I was younger, and even if I touch one child or make a difference, that really is what is it all about. At Penn State and the programs that the WNBA does for giving back has provided us with that opportunity as well, and it makes a difference for the future.
SLAM: OK, here are some short answer questions for you – do you have a pre-game ritual?
KM: Shootaround, lunch, nap, coffee, music, game.
SLAM: Favorite superhero?
KM: Batman [laughs].
SLAM: Funniest teammate?
KM: Brooke Smith.
SLAM: Something we would be surprised to know about you?
KM: I love to fish.
SLAM: Still a big tennis fan?
KM: Absolutely, cannot wait to go to NY one year for the U.S. Open.
SLAM: Favorite place to eat on the road?
KM: Almost any sushi spots.